THE ASSOCIATION of train operating companies (ATOC) this week released figures showing that 89% of passenger services were running normally with passenger numbers roughly the same as this time last year.
But a closer look at the figures shows that since the post-Hatfield re-railing work, most improvements in services are in the south east. As these account for half of the 18,500 daily journeys they mask massive falls in the use of Intercity and other regional services.
And according to Railtrack's plan to recover train operators' performance, released last week, the remaining 11% of services will be back to normal by Easter. This claim was accepted by ATOC, 'weather permitting.'
While ATOC's figures show passenger numbers during the month to 6 January 2001 to be the same as the corresponding period in 2000, Intercity use has fallen by 22.9%.
A spokesman for operator GNER, which runs the East Coast Main Line service, said it was only operating 104 trains per day, instead of the 123 before Hatfield.
A spokesman for Virgin trains, which operates on the West Coast Main Line, also confirmed it had seen a fall of up to 15% in passenger numbers in December. But he added that from this week it was increasing its services from 80% to 90% of pre-Hatfield levels. This is due to the re-establishment of four high speed lines out of Euston.
Rail freight is also still suffering as Rail Freight Group chairman Tony Berkeley confirmed: 'For freight the picture is nothing like as rosy, ' he said, but added that the situation was 'definitely getting better'. However, much freight is moved at night, when work is carried out.